By Sean Devers
A packed DCC pavilion including a large number of University of Guyana (UG) supporters witnessed one of the most enthralling days of first division cricket in recent times on day one of the semi-finals of the GISE & Star Party Rentals two-day cricket tournament, yesterday.
On a day in when there was a 35-minute stoppage due to a short, sharp shower, DCC Skipper Chris Barnwell took 5-54 with his medium pace and got support from left-arm back-of-the-hand Spinner Totaram Bishun as UG, in their first Division one semi-final, were bowled out for 225 just after Lunch.
Barnwell, the most dominant batman in local cricket, followed up his five-wicket haul by clobbering nine fours and 10 sixes in a brutal unbeaten 140 as DCC reached 233-8 by the close, enjoying a slim eight-run lead of as only Nkosi Beaton (20) off the other batsman reached 15.
Twenty-year-old Ershad Ali (2-48), Dennis Haywood (2-61) and Ray Newton (2-23) have been UG’s most successful bowlers so far. After DCC invited UG to bat on a slow track, the inform Ali, who made 59 in his last match against TSC, hit seven fours and seven sixes in 96 and shared in half-century partnerships with Lyndon Austin (35) and Devon George (22) after Omesh Danram had stroked seven fours and a six in 26-ball 44.
The Defending Champions began their reply inauspiciously as Windies youth players Raymond Perez (4), Sachin Singh (7), Tevin Imlach (0) were all back in the hut before the host had reached 25 and when First-Class left hander Trevon Griffith inexplicable charged pacer Ray Newton and had his stumps dismantled after making 13, DCC were on the ropes at 35-4.
Barnwell, who scored a ‘big’ double hundred the last time these two teams met in last year’s competition, was joined by Joshua Persaud and the pair took the score to 62 before Persaud (3) was run out and when Beaton was LBW to Ali DCC were on the back foot on 102-6.
Things got progressively worse when Steven Sankar (11) missed a wild swipe at 120-7 and when Ashmead Nedd (10) was bowled by Danram DCC were 140-8, still 65 runs away from UG’s total.
But the belligerent Barnwell, like he usually does at this level, launched a one-man show with an array of murderous shots as he dominated an unfinished 73 ninth wicket stand with Bishun (8). Earlier, Godfery Matthews (2) was bowled by Barnwell at 11-1 before Parvindralall Persaud was run for one three runs later.
Barnwell struck again when he bowled Melroy Stephenson (20) at 40-3 while Danram, who dealt in boundaries and assaulted Barnwell with back-to-back boundaries before the DCC Captain had the last laugh when he rocked back the stumps of the pugnacious Danram at 73-5.
The 25-year-old former Berbice and Guyana U-19 player Austin caressed Barnwell past cover and drove him down the ground and along with Ali who played several audacious shots on both sides of the wicket, took the score to 160-6 when Griffith’s off-spin breached Austin’s defensive prod and bowled him.
Darnel Douglas was removed for a duck by Nedd at 161-7 before Ali found a useful ally in George and together they carried UG to 212 before Bishun accounted for both batsmen. Today’s final day is scheduled to start at 09:00hrs DCC will be pressing for an outright win.
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